Header art by Major Sniper
Editor’s note: This is a companion piece to Seir Luciel’s “Git Gud”: Reframing Goon Identity article. Gray Doc is an editor at INN, and a member of Karmafleet.
One of PAPI’s casus belli for the current war included the idea that the Imperium had just gotten too big and too powerful, and hence, all other groups needed to band together to take down the “top dog.” For the good of the whole game, of course. These claims are false, at least for Legacy and I won’t belabor that point. But, for the other members of PAPI, that war justification might have some legs, so let’s look at exactly what caused “the Delve Miracle” that led to Goons being so far ahead in economic and military power.
Correlation is not Causation
First, I want to debunk, or at least reframe, the very term “Delve Miracle,” because it’s inaccurate and misleading. When Goons were living in Delve post-2016, they saw unprecedented economic growth. During this time, the monthly Monthly Economic Report (MER) by CCP proved that something amazing was happening in Delve. But, we cannot determine what “miracle” might have happened had Goons been living in another region. To equate the “miracle” with the location, as if that’s the only variable, is poor thinking. Correlation is not causation, as all good statisticians will be quick to point out. Many variables were at work in Delve, with location being only one of perhaps dozens.
If Goons had still been in Deklein, instead of Delve, would we now be talking of the “Deklein miracle?” We will never know, but we can extrapolate intelligently from history. Goons have been in the game for a long time, and they have risen, and fallen, multiple times. Let’s look at a few such cycles of rising and falling and then draw some conclusions from that cyclical history.
- Beaten down during the Great War against Band of Brothers, they again rose to a universal power during that same conflict – despite the fact that BoB was living in Delve. There was no “Delve” miracle then for BoB. Goons went on to thrive, though they weren’t living in Delve. It wasn’t location that led to the resurgence.
- Later, after Karttoon wrecked Goons, combined with the post-Great War malaise that had set into Goon culture, Goons were once again in terrible shape. Low membership, poor participation, and three CEOs within a very short time. That would be enough to sink many groups. However, once again Goons rebranded and rebuilt from the bottom. There was no “Delve Miracle” then either. They went from nearly dead to a powerhouse once again.
- By 2016, Goons were once again so powerful it took the combined efforts of almost all the rest of nullsec to drive Goons out of Deklein. The Casino War, funded as it was by Casino-generated ISK (which was subsequently banned from the game) once again brought Goons low and made them nomads, living in lowsec space, seemingly smashed and actually hunted and camped, even in null. Yet by 2018, in only two years, Goons were again, arguably, the most powerful group in the game. Only this last example had Goons based in Delve.
No Divine Intervention
So, this term “Delve” miracle should be scrapped because it implies that location is the secret sauce somehow, but we have seen that concept doesn’t fit in with Goon history or the history of EVE in general. Therefore, the term “Delve miracle” incorrectly fosters the idea that Goons, by some CCP game mechanics, got an advantage in the game that no other organization had because they were in Delve. Further, the term “miracle” implies some Divine Intervention and that Goons had nothing whatsoever to do with their unprecedented growth; that they were ‘gifted’ great riches. So, this word “miracle” too is completely misleading. Instead of “Delve miracle”, I instead propose ‘Goon Gumption’, because it can apply to all the Goon comebacks and periods of domination.
Let’s look at two criteria for what this term means to me. First, as I have demonstrated, the repeated rise to power has nothing to do with Delve but everything to do with Goons. There is something in Goon culture that brings out the very best in EVE gamers who are a part of that organization. Goons do what other organizations cannot do. The has been demonstrated many times (indeed, Groen’s Empires of EVE, Volume II, is replete with examples), so I’ll name only two:
- Together with Red Alliance (whose valuable contributions must never be forgotten), Goons defeated BoB when BoB was threatening to “blue” all of nullsec. No one thought Redswarm could possibly hold on, what with those undisciplined, unruly, uncivilized Goons, coupled with the talented but nearly dead Red Alliance. Yet they did.
- After The Casino War, Goons were left for dead, like road kill. Weaknesses were exposed; the group was in disarray. But Goon Gumption once again brought them back to full power from the brink of destruction.
Elements of Goon Gumption
So, what is this “Gumption?” The first element is work ethic. Let me illustrate this with two examples. When I played in 2018 I was mining away, but I also listened in on Mumble comms. In that mining channel, day after day, week after week, the same guys would be online, shooting the bull, talking about booze, weight loss, women, and cars, all the while creating the “miracle” that showed up in the MER. It was dozens of hours a week, I’m sure, with pilots multiboxing, filling up Rorquals to the brim multiple times a day, sometimes bringing in a billion ISK in a couple days.
No Divine Intervention at all. Hence, no miracle. Just a willingness to put in the boring mining time, which many organizations eschewed, while still enjoying the game for its social aspects. These were friends and they enjoyed the chance to be together, probably more so than the mining. So, the first quality is “work ethic.”
The second is genius, and I’ll exemplify this with a “failure” in this war that boosted my spirits like few wins will ever do: Operation Enho. After Enho failed, Asher explained what happened on Reddit and INN reran that story. In brief, Asher describes how Goons noticed a pattern in PAPI ship warps; PAPI warped in a tight ball, even with supers. Therefore, Asher and others worked on a strategy to make PAPI pay for that lazy strategy. They planned and executed the perfect mousetrap, which had it worked, would have changed the war in the way M2 was later to do.
Enho failed due to server malfunction. No excuses were provided. And 16 or so Goon titans were wiped. Humiliating? No. Exhilarating! Goons have guys that will practice the same maneuver 50 times, with various iterations, trying to get it exactly right, and then secretly move the most massive ships in New Eden to pre-planned pinpoint locations to pull a Sitting Bull maneuver to PAPI’s Custer. Nothing miraculous there. Just genius coupled with tirelessness, the way Yo Yo Ma became a master at the cello. It’s called work ethic. That is Goon Gumption, and that’s why Enho inspired me and turned my gloom into hope. Goons have guys like that!
A Brief Aside: Enho versus M2-
I also like to contrast Operation Enho with the M2-XFE debacle. I wonder: did PAPI attempt, in some deep reaches of space or on the practice server, the maneuver of warping to grid where several thousand pilots already were logged in? They could have, of course. EVE history is filled with many other such other disasters, and in another article I’ll deal with those to show that PAPI had every possible opportunity of knowing exactly what would happen in M2. But back to the practice.
It would have taken a mammoth effort of coordination and patience. Had they practiced and tested, they have anticipated the server strain. Had they read history they could have also known. Eventually, this M2- backstory will come out and I will love to read about the behind the scenes moves of M2-. Both Operation Enho and M2-XFE were disasters for their respective sides. But from Enho, I took courage that Goons might actually pull this thing out!
Back to the Gumption
But what is it about Goon culture that has allowed them to recover from such dire circumstances in the past? That’s the true “miracle.” Goons understand that coalitions need a balance between mining, industry, PvP, ratting, exploring, diplomacy, and the meta game. I’ve explained in another article that not all forms of income benefit the game as a whole, or an organization specifically. Mining, industry, and PvP are the bedrock of EVE Online; some groups have tried to ignore the first two, focusing on being elite PvPers. To finance their war machine, SRP, and purchase of new ships and structures, they rent space to make passive income. They can roam and destroy and take great pride in their PvP abilities. But what happens when things go very badly and they must build more ships quickly?
Next, Goons understand that this game, by necessity, will have a lot of boring and repetitive tasks, and so they have fostered SIGs and comm groups that provide a sense of companionship for people during the long slogs. Why haven’t Goons broken into separate groups, with some fleeing Delve, in the way some PAPI people have expected and predicted? There is Goon glue here and it is by design, not by accident. Again, it’s not Divine Intervention. It required a meta-understanding of the game, realizing that 90% or more of all moments people log in will be asking players to hurry up and wait; sitting around doing not that much (I include ratting and mining and industry in this).
These are only two of the variables that I believe are important factors in Goon resurgence after disaster. I’m sure in the comments below readers will fill in others I’ve left out.
Find the “Secret” Sauce …
And that brings me full circle to my title: Git Gud. Goons have been, essentially, wiped on a number of occasions. So, this war is absolutely nothing new for Goons. They have seen this all before. And they didn’t rely on a “Delve Miracle” to pull them out of the doldrums – far from it. It was Goon Gumption. So, my response to PAPI folk who come up with the war rationale that Goons just got too big and too powerful: Git Gud, guys! I don’t mean this as an insult. It’s serious advice. Read on.
Periodically in EVE history, all nullsec seems to feel the need to beat down Goons. But after this war, no matter the outcome, Goons aren’t going anywhere, and judging from history, Goons will be back in two or three years, unless the Serenity dream really is fulfilled, which PAPI people keep claiming is ridiculous. Are PAPI organizations just dooming their players to beating down resurgent Goons every four years? Is that what they think will make this game better? A four year cycle of having all null (except Goons) band together to beat down one coalition? I seriously suggest another option: find the secret sauce, because it isn’t even really secret.
… and Ask Better Questions
To PAPI line members, start asking better questions, because you can help this entire process by making PAPI leadership more transparent and accountable. Here are some questions I might ask; Why, after the Casino War, were Goons able to completely rebuild? What the heck were your leaders (and you) doing all that time?
Goons then were nothing – homeless folk! On a scale of 1 to 10, they were at 1 and the Casino War winners were at 7, or 8, or 9. Those winners were coming off an enormous success in the Casino War, they were on top, and all without spending any of their own ISK! So, what happened? How, in the intervening years between 2016 and 2018 do Goons go from 1 to becoming a 9 or a 10?
These Money Badgers had such a head start! It wasn’t an even race at all, and yet, they were surpassed. PAPI members: Ask yourselves why! What were you doing all that time and where did the ISK go? Because here we are again. Stop blaming the “Delve Miracle.” You’ve seen from past history that Goons come back no matter where they dwell. It’s not the location, but the organization!
‘Delve’ Into the Specifics
I repeat: Where does your ISK go? You know that this entire war revolved around M2-XFE. The Keepstar there was built by Goons players – it was a POS! Where does Goon ISK go? You’ve seen! Everybody knows. Every Goon seems to have billions in their wallet, with enough to finance war bonds when the Imperium coffers got low. Goons have enough ISK to finance their own structures and build the largest titan armada in EVE, privately owned. Why are some PAPI members so broke they can barely SRP in this war? What were they doing, before the war began? Ask your leadership and get some straight answers.
Why must PAPI propose a “Warden” system? Is it not enough to cause serious economic harm to Goons, which everyone knows has already been done, and every PAPI writer constantly asserts, with charts of how many Keepstars have been killed? What are you afraid of, such that PAPI must plan to drive Goons to lowsec and, even then, continue to “sit on their face”, to borrow a phrase from PGL? We Goons continually note that what you have done, and what you are planning to do, is Serenity 2. Why must your organization do well only by making sure Goons never rise again, ever!? If you are any good, you should be able to take the huge advantages you now enjoy and build on them without Serenetizing the server, so that you will never have to worry about Goons again.
Why can’t you git gud? Do you want to be locked into this cycle? If you don’t make changes, I advise you to start planning for 2025, because you’ll have to beat down Goons again. In the interim years, Goons will be creating another non-miracle resurgence, meanwhile your organizations will probably be doing exactly what they’ve been doing for so many years. Time to buck up and buck the trend, PAPI.